Have you ever wondered why computers are assigned IPs?
An IP, or Internet Protocol address, is a numerical label assigned to each device connected to a computer network. The Internet is an example of a computer network. It’s the place we all visit every day from our smartphones, tablet, laptops, or desktop computers.
In this article, we will discuss the reasons why computers are assigned IPs, and how this important part of computer networking functions.
I know this can get a bit technical for those not of you who are not tech-savvy at all. So I’ll do my best to keep the language as close to laymen’s terms as I can, that way you can easily follow along.
We will also explore some common ways that IPs are used to connect devices and networks together. So let’s dive in.
What is an IP Address?
An IP address, or Internet Protocol address, is a unique identifier assigned to each computer connected to the internet. It is used to enable communication between different computers on the network.
Have you ever wondered why your computer has its own unique address? Of course you have, that’s why you’re reading this article…
Computers are assigned an IP address so that they can send and receive data over a network. To break this down for better understanding, think of how the mailing system works. We’ve all mailed a letter to someone at some point in our lives (yes traditional mail is still relevant in these technology-driven days).
If you want to send someone mail, you need their full address in order for them to receive that mail from you.
Well, the same concept is true for computers connected to the internet. If two computers want to communicate, they need each other’s IP addresses first. Without it, no data would be transferred between them, because neither computer would know where to send that information.
Without an IP address, computers wouldn’t be able to connect to the internet or communicate with each other on a network.
How are IP Addresses Assigned
IP addresses are typically assigned by an Internet Service Provider (ISP). The ISP will assign a unique IP address for each device connected to its network, allowing easy identification and secure communication between devices.
An IP address is assigned manually or automatically depending on how your network is set up. When it’s assigned automatically, it’s referred to as being assigned via DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol). This is done either by your router or a server that has been assigned the role of DHCP server.
In most cases, your router usually does this automatically, and computers by default are set to receive their IP address automatically.
Here’s a quick video explaining IP addresses and how they are assigned.
Security and Privacy Considerations
When it comes to computers, security and privacy are two of the most important considerations. Especially today, with hackers constantly on the lurk. Protecting your computer and data is essential for peace of mind.
Your computer’s IP address is essentially your social security number on the internet. And all other devices on the network can identify it. This helps websites know where to send data. You ever notice how you visited a particular website because you were interested in potentially buying something from that site, but as soon as you click off that site, you start seeing their product everywhere you go on the internet?
Marketers call that retargeting, and they use your IP address to help determine where to send more information about their products to you constantly.
If legitimate marketers are using your IP address to identify you and your computer, guess what other party is doing the same thing. Yep…hackers and scammers.
So you always want to make sure that your computer is secured with security software, like anti-virus software, and that you have an “active” backup system in place.
Another layer of security that you can apply here is using a VPN (Virtual Private Network) service to encrypt your computer’s information while browsing online. There are several options out there for you to choose from, that are both free and others for a fee.
Express VPN is a great option for VPN service. They’re a pay-as-you-go monthly service that’s pretty affordable. And there’s no long-term contract.
I did a whole review on their service that you can check out here if you’re interested in learning more.
Securing IPs: Best Practices
Securing IPs is an important task that should not be overlooked when using the internet, as this makes sure that your computer and all its data stay safe from hackers or malicious attackers who may try and access your information.
When an IP address is properly secured, it can help you keep your network safe and secure against cyber threats. Which is always important, both on a personal and professional level.
There are several best practices for securing IPs which include using a firewall, installing antivirus software, regularly backing up your data, and avoiding unsecured networks whenever possible.
Let’s talk more in detail about these best practices and their benefits to you:
Use a Firewall
A firewall is always a great way to help monitor the traffic that goes in and out of your local network. Firewalls come in two forms, as software, and as hardware.
All Windows-based PCs come loaded with a native firewall, which does a decent job of managing, monitoring, and blocking unwanted traffic to your computer. However, in my opinion, I would recommend you get a third-party firewall application via an anti-virus program.
There are several to choose from of course, but I’ve had the best experience with Norton 360. There are others such as McAfee Total Protection and Bitdefender Total Security, but Norton has always been thorough in their firewall management, from what I’ve seen with my clients.
A firewall device is basically a router that does a much better job securing your computer. It actually secures an entire network, as opposed to the firewall application that needs to be installed on each individual computer.
The brand that I’d recommend here for a firewall device is SonicWall. They’re well known in the marketplace as a robust firewall device that does a great job securing networks.
In addition to the firewall feature that antivirus software has, they also protect your computer from obvious direct attacks, such as viruses, trojans, ransomware, and other types of malware.
Antivirus programs are designed to detect malicious activity and stop virus attacks before they can cause damage or steal personal data. They also alert you when suspicious websites or files are detected, enabling you to prevent any potential threats from infiltrating your system.
The best way to protect your devices against the latest digital threats is by using a comprehensive antivirus program with up-to-date protection features that can quickly identify new viruses and malware variants.
And as I mentioned before, the recommended antivirus program I would recommend is Norton 360.
Regular Data Backup
In the digital age, it is essential to protect yourself and your data from cyber threats.
Regular data backup is one of the best practices you can use to secure your IP (Internet Protocol) address.
Here’s why backups are so important for protecting your IP.
First, backing up data helps you avoid losing important files in the event of a system crash or virus attack.
If something happens to corrupt the information on your machine, you will be able to restore everything from the backup without having to start over from scratch.
Additionally, if someone should try to hack into your system or gain access with malicious intent, having an updated backup ensures that any damage done can be reversed quickly and easily.
So having an active data backup plan in place is a great security measure.
Avoid Unsecured Networks
So why should you avoid unsecured networks? Simple, it leaves you vulnerable to a cyber attack.
To protect yourself from these types of attacks, try to avoid using an unsecured network as much as possible.
These are your public and open networks like at a lounge or cafe. Anyone can swoop in and get access to your computer without you even knowing it.
In a case like this, using a VPN service would be ideal. If you absolutely have to connect to an unsecured network, ensure you have some type of security software installed and keep the connection time to that network at a minimum.
It is clear that computers need to be assigned IP addresses in order to access the internet and communicate with other devices on a network. Without IP addresses, computers would not be able to send and receive data or access the web.
Securing your IP address can be done in various ways, such as using firewalls, installing antivirus, and staying away from unsecured networks.
IP addresses can also help organizations manage their networks more effectively by allowing them to identify each device connected to them. This helps them keep track of which computers are using what resources and prevents unauthorized users from accessing sensitive information.